On 26 November, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi Ahmed said in a statement that the Ethiopian National Defence Forces would launch a “final stage” military offensive against the northern Tigray region of the country.
“The 72-hour deadline for giving the peaceful surrender of the ‘Tigray People’s Liberation Front’ has ended and our enforcement operations are in the final stages,” Abi announced on Twitter. He also said that thousands of fighters have surrendered in the area and civilians will not be affected by law enforcement operations.
“With communication and internet connectivity cut off and access to the region, no parties can confirm this claim,” Reuters reported. Tigray People’s Liberation Front” also did not comment.
Abi issued a statement on the 22nd urging the “Tigray People’s Liberation Front” to seize the “last opportunity”. He said, “We hope that you (‘Tigre People’s Liberation Front) will realize that you have no way out and surrender within 72 hours.”
The BBC quoted local media reports on the 22nd that the Ethiopian National Defense Forces are advancing heavily towards the capital of Tigray, Merklai, and plans to use tanks to surround Merklai. In an interview, the Ethiopian military said that it may also use artillery in the area and will be “relentless” in the attack.
Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, said on the 23rd that he was “ready for death” to “protect his homeland” and rejected Abi’s 72-hour “ultimatum”.
Ethiopian Prime Minister announces the start of the final phase of “law enforcement action” against Tigray State
On the morning of November 26 local time, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abi announced that the final phase of the government’s “law enforcement action” against Tigray Oblast had begun.
On the evening of November 22, the federal government of Ethiopia said it had surrounded the capital of Ty-state, Merclay, and gave Tigray’s special forces and militia a 72-hour period of peaceful surrender. Abi said that during the last 72-hour deadline, thousands of Tigray special forces soldiers and militia had surrendered to the IDF, “although [their surrender peacefully] decision was made in the last few hours, it was a responsible decision for citizens”.
At present, the 72-hour surrender period given by the federal government has passed, and Abi said that he has “instructed the Ethiopian National Defense Forces to start the third phase of law enforcement operations” and called on people in and around Mercre to disarm, stay away from military targets and take the necessary precautions. At the same time, Abi said that the IDF will do its best to protect innocent civilians from harm and elaborate strategies to protect cultural relics, monuments and public facilities.
Previously, the “Tirby Front” denied that the surrender of the TIM soldiers and rejected the federal government’s 72-hour ultimatum. It also said that it had destroyed the 21st Mechanized Division, a helicopter and a tank of the IDF, but received no response from the Federal Government of Ethiopia. On November 23, the Front confirmed that three rockets were fired at the city of Bahadar, targeting the airport. According to local residents, the rocket did not hit the target, and there is no information about the loss or death at present.
Since the Federal Government of Ethiopia claimed that it had been attacked by the “frontier” on November 4, which led to the official outbreak of the conflict, more than 40,000 Ethiopian refugees have fled to neighboring Sudan, causing a very serious humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia. On 21 November, the AU Chairman-in-Office and South African President Ramaphosa said that he would send a special envoy to Ethiopia for mediation. After that, the Ethiopian government responded that it would not negotiate with the Front, but would meet with the AU Special Envoy “out of respect” and be open to other matters.